Hotel News Update #2
August – October 2019

The last three months saw many interesting developments in the hotel industry, with headlines on loyalty programs and the labor market attracting attention. Here are six stories that stood out during the end of the summer travel season and the start of the year’s final quarter.

Study Shows Hotel Industry’s Economic Impact

An Oxford Economics report has found that the United States hotel industry supports more than 1 in 25 US jobs and contributes nearly $660 billion to the GDP annually. As Hotel Business reports, this study shows how the business of hospitality has expanded this decade, with bookings going up 43.5% since 2010.

The study breaks down how high hotel occupancy rates can help local businesses, concluding that for every $100 spent on lodging, an additional $222 is spent at the destination on food, entertainment, shopping and transportation. Hotels also generate $186 billion that goes back into their communities through taxation.

Us Travel Industry Trying to Counter Trade Crunch

With rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China, Bani Sapra of AP reports that American travel brands are trying to mitigate the dip in travel from the world’s most populous country. Last year, the number of Chinese travelers to the United States dropped for the first time in a decade and popular tourist destinations are looking at ways to fight this downward trend.

San Francisco, Washington and Arizona are all trying to court travelers from China through social media advertising and promotional campaigns directly aimed at the Chinese market. Another way U.S. hospitality brands are trying to counteract this trend is by targeting India, a market that is less experienced with traveling in the country but has a high reported interest in doing so.

Related: Trends to Watch in Chinese Leisure Travel

Travel brands and hotels are looking at ways to keep Chinese travelers coming to the U.S. despite the ongoing trade war.

IHG Moves Focuses on Luxury in Loyalty Program Battle

With the industry’s major hotel brands looking to make boost their bookings through loyalty programs, IHG Rewards has made a move to cover Mr and Mrs Smith properties. The collection of boutique hotels, primarily aimed at couples, will sit among luxury brands like Kimpton, which IHG acquired in 2014, and Six Senses, acquired earlier in 2019.

As Grant Martin of Skift writes, this deal essentially doubles the number of luxury properties in IHG’s portfolio and should help it contend with Marriott for a larger share of this lucrative booking market.

Labour Shortage Puts a Cloud Over Industry Growth

While the U.S. hotel industry is on the rise, as Karen Schwartz wrote for The New York Times, one key element of hospitality is falling behind. While the job market across the entire country has been tight, hotels are being disproportionately affected, in part because of declining immigration numbers and a shortage of domestic job seekers looking to enter the industry.

While hotels are looking for solutions, including grants and scholarships education in hospitality, many employees say they are frustrated by the pressure to work overtime and are in need of assistance.

Hotels across the United States are struggling to fill jobs as the industry continues to surge.

Wyndham Receives Rewards Program Recognition

One of the most comprehensive hotel rewards programs on the market, Wyndham Rewards, was named the top hotel loyalty program in the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. As written in Lodging Magazine, this recognition comes after Wyndham finalized their acquisition of 900 La Quinta properties in early 2019, bringing the program’s reach to 30,000 hotels, resorts and rental properties.

This is the second year in a row Wyndham has taken the top spot on this list, with Hilton Honors, Radisson Rewards, Best Western Rewards, IHG Rewards Club and Marriott Bonvoy also being named.

The Fastest Disappearing Hotel Amenity

Dressers are quickly disappearing from hotel rooms around the world, with Kaitlin Menza of Condé Nast Traveler writing that fewer and fewer properties are including the former hotel mainstay in their layouts. The trend towards minimalism and the need to efficiently use limited space are two big reasons for this, as some hotels are introducing drawers for storage under the beds and hooks on the walls.

With hotel rooms getting smaller and dressers becoming less commonly used, the decision to phase them out of the modern hotel room does not come as a surprise. However, even as travelers take a more minimalist approach to packing, there are still many business travelers who want the ability to fully unpack upon arriving at their room.

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